Work, passion, interests and life

Neglect of the Mother Tongue

Posted on: July 17, 2013

 

A few months back, I was posed a query by my son who was then studying in class III in a well known school in NCR. He showed me a notice from his school which said that from Class IV students will have to take a third language paper. There were five languages to choose from – French, Russian, Sanskrit, and Japanese & German. The student had to choose one among the given choices of languages.

As a Bengali living in the National Capital Region, the first two languages for my son obviously is English & Hindi. Neither is his mother tongue. And now he will have to grapple with a third (foreign) language in his own country. Across the world, educationist opines that a child learns the best in his/her mother tongue. But strangely I find that we’re digging the graves for our own languages.

When I discussed this issue with my brother-in-law, he narrated me an inspiring incident. He told me recently he met a Punjabi gentleman in a New Delhi shop reading a book in Bengali. On further probing, the Punjabi gentleman, who was the owner of the shop, revealed that during his youth he had read Devdas in Hindi. He was so impressed by the novels of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay that he wanted to learn Bengali and read the novel in the original language.  After his retirement, he took Bengali lessons for six months, and can read Bengali novels on his own now. In fact, quite a lot of his spare time is spent devouring Bengali classics.

Frankly, I have nothing against the foreign languages, one of which my son would eventually have to take up (Sanskrit didn’t appeal because it is difficult to get coaching), but I don’t see any logic in burdening a Class IV student with an alien language. I think it would have been easier for such young minds to learn Indian languages like Punjabi or Gujrati, Malayalam or Assamese, in case mother language can’t be taught owing to adequate number of students opting for, or the unavailability of language teachers. As for the famed languages like French, Russian or Japanese, such languages can be taught at graduate level professional courses such as Management, Engineering or Medicine in keeping with the requirements arising out of a need to integrate working environments globally…   

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